Accessibility links

Australian Prime Minister Urges UN to Disarm Iraq - 2003-02-06

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard urges the U.N. Security Council to act on what he calls damning evidence that Iraq is not disarming. In the rest of Asia, leaders described the new evidence presented by Washington as alarming, but many stopped short of calling for military action against Iraq.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a staunch ally of the United States, says the evidence presented by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell shows Iraq is not cooperating with U.N. resolutions requiring it to disarm.

Mr. Howard says the U.N. Security Council would do "immense and ongoing damage" to the credibility of the United Nations if it does not act to enforce its own resolutions.

In an interview with Australia's ABC broadcast network, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer describes the evidence against Iraq as disturbing.

"Saddam Hussein is not cooperating with the U.N. inspectors. It is perfectly obvious he is endeavoring to circumvent the work of the inspectors and to flout the Security Council resolutions," he said.

Despite public opposition to a U.S. led strike on Iraq without United Nations approval, the Australian government has committed troops to support the United States in the Persian Gulf.

Secretary of State Powell on Wednesday presented new evidence to the United Nations Security Council to bolster U.S. assertions that Iraq has not disarmed. The United States argues that a military strike may be needed to force Iraq to give its weapons programs.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Thursday ruled out sending Philippine troops to aid in an attack on Iraq. However, Ms. Arroyo strongly supported Washington's call to action.

Japan, a strong supporter of the United States, again urged Iraq to lay down its weapons of mass destruction.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi tells Parliament that Mr. Powell's speech deepened his suspicions against Iraq.

His spokeswoman later said Mr. Koizumi still wants another U.N. resolution before the United States uses force on Iraq - reflecting Tokyo's hesitation in endorsing military action.

Just before Mr. Powell's speech, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad warned that any U.S. led attack on Iraq could bring a backlash of terrorist activity by Muslims targeting the United States and its allies.

In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, Foreign Ministry spokesman Marti Natalegawa urged Washington to delay military action and give more time to U.N. weapons inspectors to complete their work.